DOT Trailer Regulations in Ohio

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In the state Ohio, a trailer is defined as a vehicle that cannot move on its own and that is designed or used for carrying people or property. A trailer is drawn by a motor vehicle, like a truck, and must have its own license plate. A trailer owner can get a license plate for a trailer from a deputy registrar, a license agency that contracts with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Requirements to Title Trailers in Ohio

Ohio requires that travel trailers, truck campers, utility trailers and boat trailers all be titled if they weigh 4,000 lbs. or more. To obtain a license plate, the owner must get a weight card and weigh the trailer.

Types of Trailers

  • Travel trailer:​ A travel trailer is drawn by a motor vehicle and equipped to use as a dwelling. Ohio defines a travel trailer as a recreational vehicle (RV) that does not propel itself and is not over 40 feet in length. It includes a tent-type, fold-out camping trailer. The Ohio Revised Code’s definition of a standard trailer does not include a travel trailer or a manufactured home.
  • Truck camper:​ A truck camper is a recreational vehicle that does not have wheels for road use and does not propel itself. A truck camper is designed to be placed on and attached to a motor vehicle. The term “truck camper” does not include truck covers that consist of walls and a roof but lack floors and facilities that enable them to be used as a dwelling.
  • Utility trailer:​ A utility trailer is a trailer drawn by a motor vehicle and equipped to use to transport personal property. A watercraft or boat trailer is a trailer used for towing a boat.

Register a Trailer in Ohio

In order to license a trailer that has or lacks an Ohio title, the owner should visit their deputy registrar. The fee to register a noncommercial trailer is based on the time for which the registration is active and the unladen weight of the trailer. As an example, the average weight of a boat trailer is 600 lbs. A 12-month registration fee for a 600-lb trailer is $17.

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles does not issue a title for trailers that weigh less than 4,000 lbs. The maximum weight for a trailer is less than 10,000 lbs. An owner can title a trailer at the deputy registrar by:

  • Signing a proof of financial responsibility statement.
  • Providing a lease agreement and power of attorney documents, if the trailer is leased.
  • Showing their Ohio driver's license or state ID.
  • Providing proof of weight through an official weight slip or the manufacturer’s certificate of origin or statement of origin.

If the owner is using the previous owner’s Ohio registration, they should complete a notarized affidavit of original weight (Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Form 5728).

Trailer Lighting Laws

A trailer in Ohio must have lights, including clearance lamps, side marker lamps, reflectors, identification lamps (ID lamps) and stop lamps. Clearance lamps are colored lamps on the left and right on the front and rear of a motor vehicle.

They indicate the extreme sides of the vehicle. Section 4501-15-4 of the Ohio Revised Code provides that trailers 80 inches or more in overall width must have two clearance lamps on the front, one at each side and two clearance lamps on the rear, one at each side.

Side Marker Lamps

A side marker lamp is an additional illumination device attached to the front and rear of a trailer. A trailer must have two side marker lamps on each side, one at or near the front and one at or near the rear. A trailer must have two reflectors, one at or near the front and one at or near the rear.

Identification Lamp Requirements

A trailer must have three identification lamps on the rear. ID lamps are a set of three lamps that fit at the top front and rear of a trailer. The purpose of ID lamps is to show the front and rear of the trailer and show the bulk of the trailer. A trailer must have a white light to illuminate the license plate so it is visible from at least 50 feet from the rear.

Stop Light Requirements

A trailer must have two or more stop lights or lamps. These should be on the rear of the vehicle and actuated, or emit light, upon application of the service brake. They may be incorporated with other rear lights.

Stop lights should emit a red light visible from 500 feet to the rear. The front clearance lamps, ID lamps, marker lamps and reflectors on the front or sides near the front should display and reflect amber, meaning yellow. Rear clearance lamps, ID lamps and marker lamps or reflectors on the rear or sides near the rear should display and reflect red.